Object Title

Sword - Writhen Hilted Sword

Sword - Writhen Hilted Sword



Object Number



From the Hearst Collection, acquired 1952. Ex Spitzer Collection, labelled as lot 230 in 1895 sale

Physical Description

Pommel and straight quillons of gilt bronze formed like three rods twisted together and splayed at the extremities. Wooden grip carved to resemble a gnarled stave, a gilt collar at the centre.

Straight, tapering, two-edged blade of flattened diamond section.






Inscriptions and Marks

On both sides of blade, close to hilt: illegible mark


Bibliographic References

A.R.Dufty and A.N. Kennard, 'Arms and Armour from the Hearst Collection acquired for the Tower of London Armouries I' Connoisseur, 1953, pp. 23-30 fig XVIII.

C. Blair, European and American Arms, London 1962, fig. 49.

R.E.Oakeshott, The Sword in the Age of Chivalry, revised edn, London, 1981, pl. 46c (illus. - det. of hilt) (Type XVIIIa; pommel ype ?V; cross type ?2) - 'mid-15th century'.

A.R. Dufty and A. Borg,European Swords and Daggers in the Tower of London, London, 1974, p.15, pl. 5c.

A.V.B.Norman, The Rapier and Small Sword 1460-1820, London, 1980, p. 368.

of type 2) - 'c.1470-75'.

German, about 1480'.

C. Paggiarino, The Royal Armouries, masterpieces of medieval and renaissance arms and armour, Milan, 2011, volume 1


A sword with similarly decorated quillons is held by St Michael on the mid-fifteenth century painted choir screen in Ranworth Parish Church, Norfolk (post card on inv. file).
A sword with a very similar hilt and with the same mark on the blade is in the Museo Militar, Lisbon, Portugal (inv. no. 18/90), publ. and ill. in 'La paz y la guerra en la época del Tratado de Tordesillas', Electa, PLACE?, DATE?, p. 303 (p-copy on inv. file). According to a note in the inv. file, the Lisbon sword was also noted by A.N. Kennard (in 1964) who considered it to be of better quality than the R.A. sword.
Oakeshott 1991, p. 101, no. XIIIa 6, illustrates a sword in a private collection with a pommel similar to that of IX.949 but composed of more (5?) rods. The quillons also have writhen decoration and are straight ended. The material is not stated, so the implication is that it is of iron. Oakeshott dates the sword to c.1480-1510.